The US Army has placed its first large batch order of the FLIR Systems PB-100 “Black Hornet” Minidrones, as part of an expanding Personal Reconnaissance Systems (PRS) program. The lightweight and compact minidrone is an overdue technological leap forward in situational awareness for the US Army and Marine Corp rifle squad.
The Army announced the recent issue of a $2.6 million PRS contract, including its first batch order of FLIR Systems PB-100 Black Hornet minidrones. The lightweight helicopter-style Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) can be used by individual soldiers at the squad level to conduct short range reconnaissance and takes either still images or video.
The 18 gram, just over a foot in length, and three camera drone boasts a 25-minute flight time and was tested by both the US Army and Marine Corp for use with forward deployed combat troops. The Army initially purchased a small number of the Black Hornet’s for use and further testing in Afghanistan in 2016. Originally envisioned by Prox Dynamics AS, the company was acquired by US defense contractor FLIR Systems in that same year.
The minidrone has seen additional service with several NATO allies and according to FLIR,
“The FLIR Black Hornet PRS equips the non-specialist dismounted soldier with immediate covert situational awareness (SA). Game-changing EO and IR technology bridge the gap between aerial and ground-based sensors, providing the same amount of SA as a larger UAV and IED location capabilities of UGVs. Extremely light, nearly silent, and with a flight time up to 25 minutes, the combat-proven, pocket-sized Black Hornet transmits live video and HD still images back to the operator.”
The thoroughly compact system can be easily attached to the operator’s equipment along with his traditional combat load and utilizes a single hand joy-stick to control the PRS. The chest mounted dropdown screen, rechargeable battery, and kilometer-and-a-half range provide a real-time and streamlined capability at the smallest unit levels. Its lightweight and versatility appear to conform well to the needs of the dismounted infantryman operating in unknown and dangerous environments.
The Black Hornet, among a few other emerging drone technologies, are greatly increasing the situational awareness and lethality of the US’s and its allied nations infantrymen. This hand-held PRS gives the lowest leaders possible a highly coveted overhead look at the hostile environments they are operating in and the ever-changing battlefield’s they wish to adapt too.
Video Courtesy: PFC Zoran Raduka of 1st Theater Sustainment Command